10/03/2008: "More Cell Towers?"
Action is slow in coming in government, but given enough time, and sufficient reminders, things do get accomplished.
For a couple of years now there has been requests for better cell phone coverage, not just so one can call from a car to -for example- talk to a person they are on their way to see, but because cell phones are increasingly used by first responders, public agencies and departments such as OPALCO and the Road Department. And yes, the public is complaining too.
SJC Council member Rich Peterson brought up the subject again last week, and was quickly rewarded for doing so by being appointed the chair of an ad hoc task force to research and present a report to the full council.
“This is an important safety issue, as well as a matter of convenience,” Peterson said. “I would like to fill out this cell phone task force with four to six sharp people, preferably including some with a background in the communications industry. My hope is that this group will be able to work with cell phone providers to find a way to meet our communications needs while still being sensitive to the concerns of our residents who are concerned about the natural environment and the esthetics of the islands.”
The current county code regulating cell phone towers is often cited as being so restrictive that it has discouraged providers from attempting to locate additional transmitters here. It is that way because when it was first introduced as a draft some years ago, there was strong resistance to cell towers concerns of potential health risks from cell phones and cell towers.
Since then the discussion at the Council level has been how do we attract the providers of cell phone service to install new towers. Peterson says that he believes the code will need to be revised, but that changing the code alone won’t produce results. “We need to determine what cell phone providers really want and need before we do anything,” he said.
Peterson encourages anyone with an interest in working on the task force to contact the San Juan County Council office by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (360) 378-2898 (ask for Maureen See).